Published: August 14, 2007
The work of Richard Pousette-Dart (1916‱992), youngest artist of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, will be on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum August 17⁓eptember 25. The exhibition, with approximately 40 paintings representing the artist’s career, premiered earlier this year at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
“Richard Pousette-Dart,” curated by Philip Rylands, director of the Peggy Guggenheim collection, with Luca Massimo Barbero, associate curator of the Peggy Guggenheim collection, is organized in collaboration with the estate of the artist, the artist’s widow Evelyn Pousette-Dart and the support of the American Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich.
Pousette-Dart was a founding member of the New York School, which included Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Active in New York from the early 1940s, Pousette-Dart made essential contributions to the Abstract Expressionist movement. He was among the first of the Abstract Expressionists to be given a solo exhibition (Artists Gallery, New York, 1941), and between 1941 and 1942 he was the first of the group to paint large-scale canvases, including “Undulation,” which anticipated Jackson Pollock’s breakthrough to mural-scale work in 1943.
During this period Pousette-Dart’s technique began to emphasize gesture, layers of paint and evocative subject matter that were the first pictorial statements of what came to be known as “action painting.”
In 1947, Peggy Guggenheim gave him a solo exhibition at her New York gallery, Art of This Century, where the artist’s best-known masterpiece and the large-scale Abstract Expressionist painting, “Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, circa 1941‴2), was shown for the first time. In 1950 he was included in the historic photograph “The Irascibles,” depicting 15 New York School abstract painters, which is part of the Guggenheim exhibition.
Pousette-Dart drew inspiration from Native American, African and Oceanic art, as well as European and American artistic trends, and the writings of Freud and Jung. He was influenced by Oriental philosophy and American Transcendentalism and held to the conviction that the abstract symbols of painting could reveal universal truths by suggesting the mysterious realm of the spirit.
In 1951, the solitude he needed for his life’s work required him to move out of New York. In 1958 he and his wife, the poet Evelyn Gracey Pousette-Dart, moved to the countryside near Suffern, N.Y., where his studio is still preserved. Glowing and mysterious “white” paintings from around 1950-51, include the masterpiece “Descending Bird Forms,” while Pousette-Dart’s work in the 1960s contributed to the color field and lyrical abstraction that were an important evolution of Abstract Expressionism.
Richard Pousette-Dart’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in solo exhibitions organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1969-70), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1963, 1974 and 1998), the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1986), the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana (1990), the Detroit Institute of Arts (1991), the Columbus Museum, Ohio (1991-92), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1997), the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2001), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006), the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (2006) and the Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio (2007).
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Skira and includes essays by Philip Rylands, Kirstin Hübner and Lowery S. Sims, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, N.Y., with a chronological biography by Enda Horgan.
On September 21 at 2 pm, assistant curator Karole Vail will provide a public tour of the exhibition as part of the series “A Curatorial Eye Tour.”
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is at 1071 Fifth Avenue. For information, 212-423-3840 or www.guggenheim.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm